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Environmental and occupational particulate matter exposures and ectopic heart beats in welders
  1. Jennifer M Cavallari1,2,
  2. Shona C Fang2,
  3. Ellen A Eisen3,
  4. Murray A Mittleman4,5,
  5. David C Christiani2,5,6
  1. 1Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, UConn Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut, USA
  2. 2Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA
  4. 4Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  5. 5Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  6. 6Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jennifer M Cavallari, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, UConn Health Center, Farmington 06032, CT, USA; cavallari{at}


Objectives Links between arrhythmias and particulate matter exposures have been found among sensitive populations. We examined the relationship between personal particulate matter ≤2.5 µm aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5) exposures and ectopy in a panel study of healthy welders.

Methods Simultaneous ambulatory ECG and personal PM2.5 exposure monitoring with DustTrak Aerosol Monitor was performed on 72 males during work and non-work periods for 5–90 h (median 40 h). ECGs were summarised hourly for supraventricular ectopy (SVE) and ventricular ectopy (VE). PM2.5 exposures both work and non-work periods were averaged hourly with lags from 0 to 7 h. Generalised linear mixed-effects models with a random participant intercept were used to examine the relationship between PM2.5 exposure and the odds of SVE or VE. Sensitivity analyses were performed to assess whether relationships differed by work period and among current smokers.

Results Participants had a mean (SD) age of 38 (11) years and were monitored over 2993 person-hours. The number of hourly ectopic events was highly skewed with mean (SD) of 14 (69) VE and 1 (4) SVE. We found marginally significant increases in VE with PM2.5 exposures in the sixth and seventh hour lags, yet no association with SVE. For every 100 μg/m3 increase in sixth hour lagged PM2.5, the adjusted OR (95% CI) for VE was 1.03 (1.00 to 1.05). Results persisted in work or non-work exposure periods and non-smokers had increased odds of VE associated with PM2.5 as compared with smokers.

Conclusions A small increase in the odds of VE with short-term PM2.5 exposure was observed among relatively healthy men with environmental and occupational exposures.

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